Eleanor Jean (Elbert) Johnson, age 89, passed away on the morning of July 8, 2022.
Many residents of Missouri Valley knew her as “Mrs. Game Warden,” the woman who answered the phone and relayed messages to Richard (Dick) Johnson, the game warden. Many also knew her as the beloved Mrs. Johnson, the daycare and preschool teacher. Her volunteer Mrs. Game Warden job spanned 37 years while running a successful daycare and later a preschool, in her home for 27 years.
Jean was born Dec. 21, 1932, on a family farm in north central Iowa. The third of nine children, she grew up with a farmer’s work ethic. She milked cows, tended the garden, and acquired the love of baking.
Jean attended a one-room country school until Fifth grade. After graduating from high school in Cylinder, Jean worked as a telephone operator and was later promoted to office manager at the county’s ASCS farm services office.
She married Richard (Dick) Johnson, an Air Force airman, in June of 1958. The newlyweds lived in Offutt Air Force Base where they welcomed their first child, Nancy. After the arrival of their second child, Rich, Dick became the game warden of Harrison and Shelby counties which brought the Johnson family to Missouri Valley in 1964. And so began the Mrs. Game Warden “job” from 1960 thru the 90’s, providing the message service that was integral to Dick’s job since the listed Game Warden’s telephone number was the home number.
The enterprising Jean started a daycare in her house after her third child, Bruce, was born. In 1975, she elevated her business to a preschool in her basement. Hundreds of Mo Valley preschoolers attended Johnson Preschool over the years. When Jean retired from childcare in 1997, the mayor proclaimed “Jean Johnson Day” in honor of her 27 years of teaching and caring for the young children of the community.
Jean is also known as the loving and sweet “Grandma Jean” to her grandchildren Andy, Aaron, Allison, Kiera, and Kirsten, and her great-grandchildren Austin, Natalie, Blake, Tanner, and Breck. Unbeknownst to Jean, there is one more great-grandchild Abel on her way.
Jean and Dick have been active volunteers of St Patrick’s Catholic Church and many other community organizations.
Jean is preceded in death by her husband Dick; parents, Agnes and Elmer; brother, Darold; and sisters, Lavonne and Beverly. She is survived by her brothers, Steve and Rich; and sisters, Marge, Ruth, and Agnes.
Jean is also survived by her three children and their families, Nancy Abel and husband Mike of Cheyenne Wyo, Richard Johnson and wife Grace of Bloomington, Minn., Bruce Johnson of Missouri Valley; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be Tuesday, July 12, from 5-7 p.m. with Rosary at 7 p.m. at Hennessey Funeral Home in Missouri Valley.
Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 13, 2022, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Missouri Valley, followed by a luncheon. Livestream will be available.